When the past is present…
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When the past is present…
(Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from Dr. Toldson’s speech to the inaugural summit of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans: Addressing the Socio-Cultural Factors Impacting the Academic Achievement and Development of African American Males. Toldson is deputy director of White House Initiatives on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.)
In general, the data presented often paints a bleak picture of the educational experiences of black males in school and the circumstances that frame their experiences. This image is reinforced by the language we too often use when we assess the living conditions of black males in urban areas. Phrases like “crime-ridden,” “broken homes” and “drug-infested” are catch-all phrases that each contribute to a myriad of deficit-oriented viewpoints that, in effect, condemn the families and communities that are entrusted with shaping the lives of black male youth.
In order to promote their academic success and well-being, there is a need to delve deeper in to the data, as well as go beyond the data to understand the various ways in which young black males are surviving, thriving and demonstrating a level of resilience belied by popular statistics. We also have to do a better job of vetting the data to make sure they are true.
The following are a few of the greatest lies ever told about black males:
1. There are more black men in prison than in college. Today there are approximately 600,000 more black men in college than in jail, and the best research evidence suggests that the line was never true to begin with. Read more.
2. Black boys can’t read. Before blindly accepting reports that less than a fifth of black boys (and less than half of white boys) can read, learn about the NAEP, take a practice test and learn about diverse learning styles. Read more.
3. Black youth of today are more violent than any generation in history. Today, the rate of violence among black youth is slightly less than it was before 1980 and less than half the rate that it was in the 1990s. Read more.
Discover the other six lies when you read the full story.
Akintunde Ahmad just sees himself as a regular 17-year-old, but the Oakland, Calif., teen has stunned everyone with his 5.0 GPA and 2100 SAT score, which have led to his acceptance at some of the country’s most prestigious universities.
“Like, my whole life, people have been telling me to stay on this path and everything will fall, the cards will fall like you want them to,” Akintunde told KGO-TV, proudly tipping a hat to the Oakland public school system.
Akintunde walks around with pictures documenting his astounding academic achievements saved on his smartphone, not because he wants to show off but because few believe that the teenager, who sports long dreadlocks, has actually reached such lofty heights. He says he is often judged for his appearance….
Akintunde has his heart set on either Yale or Brown and is interested in pursuing premed or prelaw.
A New York businesswoman struck by cancer changes her life and becomes an international rock star. A man loses his eyesight and attempts to become the first blind person to row a boat across the Atlantic Ocean….and succeeds. A young basketball player, mangled in a horrible car wreck, rebuilds his body becomes one of Hollywood’s most successful stuntmen.
Five billion people worldwide will survive a trauma in their lives. Most experience inner growth even as their outer lives return to normal. But sometimes, survivors do more than bounce back.
Sometimes they bounce forward.
Supersurvivors: The Surprising Link Between Suffering & Success explores extraordinary accomplishments in the wake of catastrophic trauma to help us understand how ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things.
Supersurvivors offers a bold new vision for understanding and harnessing resilience through the lens of positive psychology. Beginning where resilience ends, Supersurvivors examines the stories and science behind the surprising number of cases in which survivors don’t just grow; they revolutionize their lives. Having survived, these extraordinary individuals radically deviate from their previous life paths.
In so doing, they transform the meaning of their personal tragedies by making them the basis for dramatic and long-term life change, often discovering hidden parts of themselves and contributing to the world in ways they never thought possible.
‘SUPERSURVIVORS: The Surprising Link Between Suffering & Success’ by David B. Feldman, PhD, and Lee Daniel Kravetz, will be published by HarperCollins/Harper Wave in June, 2014. It will be available in hardcover and ebook wherever books are sold.
Read more at http://www.supersurvivors.com
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George Fox University, a Christian school in Newberg, Ore., says officials denied the student’s December request to live with his male friends because of the school’s “theological commitments.” The university says it’s in the process of implementing a policy that only permits housing arrangements based on birth sex, according to a letter obtained by PQ Monthly, a Portland-based LGBT magazine.
At the time, the university gave the student, who is identified as Jayce, two alternative living options for the 2014-2015 school year, according to the outlet. The first option was to live off campus with his male roommates, as long as he notified their parents about the arrangement and changed his name and sex on his driver’s license and social security card. The other option was to live alone.
“While I appreciate university administrators meeting with me regarding my housing requests, their ultimate decision makes me feel rejected, misunderstood, and punished for something I cannot change,” Jayce told PQ Monthly. ( . . .)
“[T]hey were unwilling to listen to him,” Southwick told the outlet. “And so he had to take the next step to protect himself.”
In a Change.org petition letter that asks the university to reverse its decision. (. . .)
The letter has since garnered nearly 4,000 signatures. ( . . .)
Read the full article.
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This morning I woke up to headlines from New York Post and the New York Daily News that could very well have been written by Tony Soprano himself. The local NYC tabloids derided Rev. Al Sharpton as both a “rat” and a “snitch” for his alleged cooperation with the FBI-NYPD in the 1980s.
According to a report from TheSmokingGun.com, the civil rights leader and MSNBC host was informant “CI-7” who wore a wire during his interactions with leaders of the infamous Genovese crime family. The report claims the FBI gathered information through Sharpton which ultimately led to law enforcement bringing down America’s largest and most feared mob organization.
In a press conference at his National Action Network office in Harlem Tuesday afternoon, an indignant Sharpton confronted what he called “old news” and a misrepresentation of something that he wrote about in his 1996 book, Go and Tell Pharaoh.
Watch Reverend Sharpton’s rebuttal in full here.
Read the full article here.
See more breaking news here.
On the last day to sign up for Obamacare, evidence appears to be mounting that what started as a disaster may turn out a success. Monday is the deadline to enroll in health insurance for 2014 via the health insurance exchanges created by President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and it’s clear that many waited until the last minute. The looming deadline and fear of the penalty for not getting covered has driven millions of people to the exchange websites, enrollment events and health insurance companies over the past few days.
HealthCare.gov and some state-run health insurance exchanges suffered software glitches and buckled under heavy demand Monday.
The final rush could push the total number of private insurance enrollments well past the 6 million figure touted by the Obama administration last week. Obamacare sign-ups may wind up closer to the 7 million originally predicted for the first year. (. . .)
Signing up the healthy and the young is critical to the health of the healthcare law. And based on anecdotal accounts from health insurance companies, the surge is also bringing along young adults in greater numbers.
“We’re definitely seeing some younger consumers, as our average age of an applicant is going down,” said Kurt Kossen, the vice president for retail marketing at Chicago-based Health Care Service Corp., which operates Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies in Illinois, Montana, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. Online insurance broker eHealth reported a similar trend last week.
In order to make premiums affordable in future years, insurers need healthier people to offset the high medical costs of older, sicker people who now have guaranteed access to coverage. Adults 18 to 34 years old made up one-quarter of nationwide enrollments through March 1, according to the Department of Health and Human Services, a proportion lower than the roughly 40 percent the White House is seeking.
Not everyone is so pleased with their new health plans. Households with incomes above four times the poverty limit, or about $95,400 for a family of four, don’t qualify for financial assistance and can face hundreds of dollars in premiums every month for even basic coverage. And many people who previously purchased their own coverage directly from insurance companies saw their policies canceled last year because they didn’t meet ACA standards, and had to replace them with plans that are often costlier because the mandated benefits are more generous. (. . .)
HealthCare.gov also drew record demand Monday when 1.2 million users visited the website by noon Eastern Time. First-time users of the website weren’t able to create accounts for about an hour Monday afternoon and administrators twice activated the site’s “virtual waiting room” when the number of people trying to log in surpassed its capacity, which is estimated at 100,000 users at once. State-run exchange websites in places like California and Maryland also experienced some difficulties. Telephone call centers for the exchanges were swamped by consumers seeking help, as well.
Although Monday is the nominal deadline for anyone who doesn’t have health coverage to get insured this year, enrollments will continue through the coming weeks, since the Obama administration and most state-run health insurance exchanges are leaving the systems open for those who already started their applications but have not completed them by the end of the day. (. . .)
Read the full article.
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A recent study has found that a complex racial history and a lack of programs encouraging diversity have helped New York schools claim the title as the most segregated in the nation.
New York state’s public school system is the most segregated in the country because most of the state’s schools have virtually no white students. The majority of the state’s school population is African American and Latino, adding to the growing concern that connects educational problems with lack of diversity. The schools are often poverty-concentrated and include a less-experienced and less-qualified teacher workforce, according to a report released from UCLA’s Civil Rights Project.
The report from UCLA’s Civil Rights Project studied enrollment trends from 1989 to 2010 and found that almost 30 percent of the state’s schools had fewer than 10 percent white students. And in 11 percent of the schools, fewer than 1 in 100 students are white.
According to the study, these numbers are driven by several factors, including New York City’s complex racial history of segregation and the influx of charter schools, which some call “apartheid schools.” According to the study, more than half of the city’s 32 community school districts are “intensely segregated,” and a majority of charter schools boost shockingly low numbers, as fewer than 1 percent of the student’s population is white.
Read more about this study’s methods and conclusions here.
For more breaking news, click here.
Members of BYP100, a black youth activist organization, have a dialogue with a black police officer after being profiled on Princeton University’s campus, where they had convened for a conference.
Watch the dialogue here:
To learn more about the Black Youth Project100, click here.
For more breaking news, click here.
It is Dr. Dorothy Irene Height, dubbed the “godmother of the civil rights movement,” as President Barack Obama aptly put it when mourning her passing four years ago.
Although a major contributor in the movement, the iconic Height is often left out when Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr. and other greats are mentioned. So it was pleasant, and only fitting, that Google presented the world with a beautiful doodle on what would’ve been her 102nd birthday, March 24.
Height is credited with convincing President Dwight Eisenhower to desegregate schools. She was one of the driving forces behind President Lyndon Johnson’s appointments of black women to government, and she walked in lockstep with first lady Eleanor Roosevelt to spotlight women’s rights. She even shared the platform with Dr. King when he delivered his unforgettable “I Have a Dream” speech.
For her work she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1994, followed by the Congressional Gold Medal ten years later.
In 2010, the nation lost Height at the age of 98. She was one of the greatest black women leaders ever to have graced us with her presence. Her memory and all she fought for should be far from forgotten, as Google reminds us today.
Read the article here.
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Note: Staff of the Wisconsin Humanities Council (WHC) asked ABHM’s Virtual Museum Director to blog about her personal reactions to the Gathering for Racial Repair and Reconciliation that honored the museum’s founder, Dr. James Cameron, in February 2014. WHC funded the Gathering.
(…) As I looked around the room at the discussions taking place, my heart soared. I experienced a sense of hope for our hyper-segregated city such as I have seldom felt. I was not alone in that feeling. In their evaluations of the event, participants expressed their fervent desire to continue and deepen this dialogue. ABHM is now conducting monthly conversations around the city.This is work that brings me special satisfaction and joy.
In 1971-72 I was a graduate social work student, specializing in community organizing, at the University of Michigan. My field work placement (internship) was with New Detroit, a large, black-led organization that arose to revive the city following the uprisings there. I was assigned to the Speakers Bureau, which conducted anti-racism training and organizing for whites and other non-blacks. As a Jew and a fluent Spanish-speaker, I was asked to reach out to the Jewish and Latino communities.
It was a challenging, uphill struggle, but I loved the work. I had experienced the ways that racism distorts the psyches and lives of both victim and victimizer while growing up Jewish in a small Indiana town, and while living and working in the South with migrant farmworkers. At an early age I had already come to believe that racial/ethnic hatred and power struggles are a principal cause of suffering in the US and around the world – and I determined to do something to change that.(…)
Read the full blog here.
Read more breaking news here.
Of 3,200 children’s books published in 2013, just 93 were about black people, according to a study by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin.
(…) As I discovered who I was, a black teenager in a white-dominated world, I saw that these characters, these lives, were not mine. I didn’t want to become the “black” representative, or some shining example of diversity. What I wanted, needed really, was to become an integral and valued part of the mosaic that I saw around me.
Books did not become my enemies. They were more like friends with whom I no longer felt comfortable. I stopped reading. I stopped going to school. On my 17th birthday, I joined the Army. In retrospect I see that I had lost the potential person I would become — an odd idea that I could not have articulated at the time, but that seems so clear today. (…)
Then I read a story by James Baldwin: “Sonny’s Blues.” I didn’t love the story, but I was lifted by it, for it took place in Harlem, and it was a story concerned with black people like those I knew. By humanizing the people who were like me, Baldwin’s story also humanized me. The story gave me a permission that I didn’t know I needed, the permission to write about my own landscape, my own map.(…)
TODAY I am a writer, but I also see myself as something of a landscape artist. I paint pictures of scenes for inner-city youth that are familiar, and I people the scenes with brothers and aunts and friends they all have met.
Thousands of young people have come to me saying that they love my books for some reason or the other, but I strongly suspect that what they have found in my pages is the same thing I found in “Sonny’s Blues.” They have been struck by the recognition of themselves in the story, a validation of their existence as human beings, an acknowledgment of their value by someone who understands who they are. It is the shock of recognition at its highest level.
Read the full article here.
Read the companion article, The Apartheid of Children’s Literature, by Christopher Myers.
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